Callum MacGregor | 23rd February 2016

Missing the (bench)mark in email marketing

As CRM and BI consultants we love looking at data, especially when it comes to producing analysis for our clients. When deploying and optimising email campaigns, we look at typical industry metrics like open rate, click through rate, deliverability, bounces and unsubscribes. These all have a common industry benchmark, and are key indicators of how well a campaign performed. More importantly they give us the insight to understand what to do to improve!

But there is one metric that we look at for our clients that isn’t on the majority of industry benchmark reports that we believe should be: click-to-open rate.

Click-to-open rate is calculated by taking the number of unique clicks divided by the number of unique opens, and multiplying this number by 100 to create a percentage.

Open rate, click through rate, deliverability, bounces and unsubscribes have regularly quoted industry standards, but many benchmark reports neglect click-to-open rate.

For example, MailChimp doesn’t quote click-to-open rate on their list of benchmarks.

Industry average click-through rate is used as a measurement to understand how engaged customers and fans are with content relative to industry performance. But it is calculated by looking at how many people clicked on content within an email compared to the number of people that were sent the campaign.

Our question is, simply:


If I’m sent a campaign and don’t open it, I can’t see how good or bad the content is to interact with it, and so how can this be used as the benchmark to how good or bad a campaign’s content is?

Imagine we have two campaigns:

• Campaign A generates an open rate of 25% and a click-through rate of 3.5%.

• Campaign B generates an open rate of 20%, and a click-through rate of 3.5%.

Both of the above results have industry standard click through rates, so we might be inclined to say the content in both performed equally, right? Wrong!

By looking at the click to open rate of the above examples:

• Campaign A had a 14% click-to-open rate

• Campaign B had a 17.5% click-to-open rate – this campaign is a clear WINNER!

The content, design and calls to action clearly performed better in Campaign B because a higher percentage of people who opened the campaign went on to click on a link. There could be one, or a combination of reasons for a lower open rate, like:

1. The subject line may be less appealing

2. The campaign could have been sent to a larger, less-engaged audience, or

3. The time of day it was sent wasn’t optimal

However, the rate of interactions generated are much higher and therefore, from a content perspective, this is a much better performing campaign.

So if we only look at open rate and click through rate, we miss a key insight – and a very valuable insight at that! Namely how effective was my content?

When looking at analysis we use all the individual campaign metrics to paint a full picture for our clients to show them how well a campaign performed. Without click-to-open rate we believe the picture is incomplete.

We’d love to see more and more use of click-to-open rates used across the sports industry and we’d love to see the missing benchmark added to the common list of industry averages. In the meantime, Winners will continue to share these insights with clients to help them improve engagement levels and ROI.

If you’d like help with how to approach interrogating campaign performance, or you have any questions about understanding how you can improve your email campaigning, please feel free to contact the Winners team today.

Missing the (bench)mark in email marketing

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